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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Friday - September 03, 2010

From: Rosenberg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Trees
Title: How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree in Rosenberg, TX?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

How can I tell the age of a Pecan tree? I live on the Brazos River and have a lot of large Pecan trees but the largest is approx. 11 ft. around.

ANSWER:

The answer depends on how precise you want to be. The most accurate method would be to cut down the tree and count the growth rings. That sounds a little drastic, so I will give you a couple of alternatives

This link suggests that there is a good correlation between the circumference of the tree and its age (circumference in inches equals age in years), and its easy enough to measure the circumference of the tree. Or this link suggests a similar correlation between the diameter of the tree and its age. You'll have to use some math skills to determine the diameter  ( d = C/pi).

The third method invovles extracting a core sample from the trunk of the tree using an increment borer. This technique is commonly used by foresters as a management tool in forests. You of course would need to have an increment borer and some expertise in using it and in handling and analyzing the core once it is obtained.

I've included links to the University of Tennesee and Auburn University for extensive descriptions on the use of an increment borer.

If you choose to go the increment borer route, the folks at the Fort Bend county office of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service or the Houston office of the Texas Forest Service may be able to help.

 

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